New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on the Ecuadorian government to “end its attacks” on a non-profit organization that monitors freedom of expression in the country.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Communications (Secom) had ordered an investigation that could lead to the dissolution of Fundamedios, which the government says has violated its non-profit status by engaging in politics through social media, including attack on the government.
According to HRW director Daniel Wilkinson, the administration of President Rafael Correa wants to punish Fundamedios for tweeting opinions it does not agree with. “This is an egregious abuse of power and a clear example of this government’s authoritarian practices,” he said.
Secom says that Fundamedios was chartered to “promote social development through the media” and is prohibited from disemminating partisan political content. In maintaining that Fundamedios violated the prohibition, Secom listed 57 Twitter entries containing links to articles critical of the government.
Among the tweets cited by Secom was one referring to an interview with indigenous leader Salvador Quishpe. Quishpe was a leader of an anti-government strike in August. Another tweet mentioned a poll in which a majority of Ecuadorians favored a national referendum on oil drilling on environmentally sensitive land.
Wilkinson called on the Ecuadorian government to end the process of dissolving Fundamedios and respect the “fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association.”
Wilkinson added that the dissolution of Fundamedios would be a violation of Article 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which establishes the right to free association. “Closing Fundamedios would be a matter of international concern,” he said.
Fundamedios has 10 days to respond to the charges before Secom issues an administrative ruling on Fundamedios’ future.